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The Cancel Culture Thread


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2 hours ago, Bobref said:

I wonder when they will come for more traditional literature that contains historically accurate racial situations ... which more enlightened generations have discarded. I’m thinking specifically of one of the greatest pieces of literature in the English language: Huckelberry Finn.

Where have you been the last couple of decades?  


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How a Cultural Liberal Became a Cultural Conservative Without Moving An Inch

Two weeks ago, Dr Seuss Enterprises announced that they would no longer print six Suess books due to what they described as “insensitive and racist imagery.”

I’ve been rather… um… energetic about this topic on Twitter. Part of this is in response to what I see as rather dishonest attempts to justify this decision within the context of a culture that grew up righteously singing the praises of banned books and encouraging people (especially children) to pursue “forbidden knowledge”.

I went to college at a time when the people most likely to “ban” a piece of art were the conservative Christians. Whether it was a book, a movie, or some artifact of fine art, the cultural group most eager to remove access to art was on the right. Terms such as “pornographic” and “inappropriate for children” are commonplace in requests to remove books from library shelves.

In fact, for the purposes of a “banned book list” like the kind that is published by the American Library Association, the very definition of a “ban” has nothing to do with if a book was actually removed from a library but is a catalogue of how often people have requested that a book be removed from a library. With that definition, it has been argued that this removal of Seuss books from publication isn’t even truly a “ban” because it comes from Dr Seuss Enterprises and not from community complaints. Even as libraries remove the books from their shelves, it’s not formally considered a “ban” by the ALA because, instead of a library patron impotently complaining about a book, the library is using its institutional power to remove it.

It bothers me somewhat that books that you can easily purchase or check out of any library are considered “banned” while books that you actually cannot obtain are “not banned”. If this is the case, then perhaps we need to revisit our definitions.

Regardless of the actual definition of the word “ban”, I want to make a distinct plea for continuing publication of these books, even if we must ultimately do so without the permission of the publisher.

An Argument from History

I want to start this conversation by asking you to watch this video that appears at the beginning of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 3


I remember when these DVDs came out and there were some complaints among collectors that they shouldn’t have to watch this video to see the Looney Tunes shorts or that this warning was infantilizing and insulting to the viewer. My position at the time was that I was annoyed by it, but I’ve grown increasingly sympathetic to it. Furthermore, if the price of having the Warner Brothers studio restore and release these 80+ year old cartoons exactly as they originally met their audience is that Whoopie Goldberg talks to me about racial and ethnic stereotypes, I consider that a fair trade.

Goldberg has long been a staunch advocate for preserving the film history in its original form. Hell, she’s argued that Disney needs to re-release Song of the South for a new generation. She’s argued that the crows from Dumbo are an essential part of our collective cultural memory. She really believes (as do I) that we shouldn’t let even obviously offensive media fade silently into the past but we should keep visible and accessible for future generations.

This is a good argument for maintaining the publication of these Seuss books. But it is not the one that really moves my soul.

For the Discovery and the Wonder

Before this story broke, I had read only “And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street” and “On Beyond Zebra”.

On Beyond Zebra was certainly my favorite. It tells the story of an older boy who, watching his young friend spell out the alphabet, informs him that there are another 19 letters in his alphabet. Without these letters, we learn, you couldn’t possibly talk about all the glorious things out in the universe.

There is one letter, ZATZ, is essential for spelling Zatz-it. Without this letter you couldn’t possibly comprehend the Zatz-it, a gentle giant of a creature that requires a special nose-patting extension to fully appreciate.


What I love about On Beyond Zebra is the sense of the incompleteness in our existing knowledge.

Back in the world of adults, we often forget that our knowledge is quite limited. We don’t know everything, and we can’t know everything. But, beyond that, we don’t have the mental constructs to know everything. Our children will discover new mental constructs that will enable them to navigate the physical world in a way we currently cannot. They will come up with new vocabulary to describe things we literally cannot imagine… because we don’t currently have the words for it.

On Beyond Zebra is about that. It’s about the idea that we can expand the very building blocks of knowledge, down to the letters that we use to construct the words necessary to describe the world around us.

That’s a valuable thing to understand. That’s a deep knowledge to toss in front of children and yet Seuss does it beautifully.

And now it’s gone.

Each of these books has a dear advocate. Each of these books had a kid who loved it more than any other book in the library. If you’re old (like I am) you remember checking books out from a library, signing your name to the checkout card every time you needed to read that book again.

For those under 35, this is a checkout card. You would sign your name to it and the librarian would stamp the date-due box to remind you when to bring it back.

  Vintage Library Check Out Cards in Blue Lot of 15 LAST SET  

Confession: There is a copy of The Dark Knight Returns in the Fairport Public Library where, if they still hold those library checkout cards, you may find my name scrawled repeatedly in the checkout card. It was my favorite book for many years. I’m glad a public library gave me access to a book my parents wouldn’t have let me buy.

Back to the point… each of these Seuss books had a checkout card where you could see the same kid (or parent) checking it out again and again. Each of these books was beloved by someone. And that love has been taken from them.

Children will never again see themselves in the boy of Mulberry Street, whose imagination on his walk home from school took a a horse and wagon and turned it into a grand town-engulfing procession. They won’t look into the depths of McElligot’s pool and wonder about how this little pond in their town leads out to the ocean and, therefore, into every corner of the world.

These stories aren’t disposable. They are not replaceable. They inspired people and brought them joy. They are something to be protected and cherished. They should endure.

But their lives are over. These stories did not die from neglect. They were killed by a publisher who feared that a few outdated moments in these books would be used as a weapon against the larger Seuss enterprise. They were sacrificed in order to hold back a tide of unsympathetic, vengeful, artificially generated offense proffered by activists itching to show their power over the larger culture by strangling the childhood memories that these people cherished.

Turning Love Into Shame

The execution of these stories isn’t even the most anti-human part of this story. That part is reserved for the people who decided the appropriate tactic in this culture war skirmish was to attack as racists anyone who loved these books.

Sadly, this argument even came from people I respect, like Jake Tapper.

Think of a piece of art that you love. Pick any one, it doesn’t have to be a Seuss book. It could be Harry Potter or Hunger Games, maybe it is a mainstay of Russian literature, it could be a play like Rent or a movie like Pulp Fiction. Think about how much you enjoy it, how your eyes soften and the corners of your mouth turn upward into an involuntary smile when you think about it.

Now imagine someone tells you that you’re a racist for loving that thing you love.

What is the appropriate recourse?

Do you object to being labeled a racists for loving something that brings you joy?

“Well,” they would say (and indeed they did) “only a racist would love that thing. Are you going to disagree? You must be a racist too!”

Here is the racism that Tapper objects to from On Beyond Zebra. I show this to you because Jake Tapper did not. Keep that in mind. Tapper picked the most offensive image he could find (from If I Ran the Zoo) and pretended like that was the only example anyone needed to see.

But he told his audience this image from On Beyond Zebra was “indefensible” even though he didn’t show it to them.


Now, because I’m not stupid, I know the objection to this image. It is that this is a Middle Eastern stereotype based on the the fact that he’s riding what appears to be a camel. But I’m at a loss about what the negativity is here. Is it that Arabic people hoard things? Not only do I not get that from this image, that’s not a thing I’ve ever heard. The objection seems to be that it’s bad to cartoon-ize any ethnic group whatsoever.

Here is the offensive image from McElligot’s Pool.


I suppose the idea is that the concept of Eskimo Fish is offensive. That’s all I’ve got on this one.

We Don’t Know Who We Are If We Cancel History

This argument barely even meets the point I’m trying to make. Even if the images *were* offensive, that’s not a good reason to ban them. Let’s make no mistake, when a publisher refuses to publish a book, when the books are ripped off the library shelves, when multiple Big Tech companies tell independent book sellers they are no longer allowed to sell a book, that book has been banned.

I hate a culture that bans things. If we banned all bad things, we would have so little aged culture that our entire history would be obscured. Our culture is filled with bad images, especially ones that are many decades old.

The first major motion picture, a groundbreaking piece of cinema that singlehandedly introduced us to the concept of long-form moviemaking, was a vile, racist, pro-KKK work that nevertheless taught future filmmakers the essential components of the grammar of this new visual medium.

The first sound picture was about a Jewish actor in blackface who sings “My Mammy” for his public audience and “Kol Nidre” for a Jewish one. At the time, the Jewish portion of the movie was edgier than the blackface component.

You can’t see the performance that won the first Oscar for a black man because Disney hasn’t released Song of the South for a generation. If Gone With The Wind is ever cancelled, you won’t be able to see the performance that won the first Oscar for a black woman.

These movies, this art, tells us where we came from. James Baskett wasn’t a unwilling participant in Song of the South. He gave a stellar performance and was on excellent terms with Walt Disney (who was deeply involved with and very proud of that production). We need to see these things and ask ourselves why such talented performers took these roles that we would now consider beneath them.

We need to understand that it is because they lived in a time with different assumptions. They lived in another context. The only way to understand that time is with more information. We need to read their stories and see their films. We need more books, more cartoons, more art, more of everything. Every piece of art, every book, every film, they all contribute to a fuller understanding of where we came from. Offensive or not, they tell us something about ourselves.

I don’t imagine this plea for understanding and the integrity of art will change many minds. In fact, I’m actively planning that it won’t. I’m planning to privately secure all the “forbidden” knowledge that I can and make it available to my family and friends. My dream is to print out the Forbidden Seuss and bring copies to my local book store when they hold their “Banned Books” events. They will be making bank, selling books that are clearly not banned, while I spend my own money handing out copies of books that you literally cannot buy.

I feel like an absurdist in saying this. Am I truly planning to spend my waning years handing out home-printed copies of beloved works of art that Big Media says you aren’t allowed to have?

Honestly, nothing could make me happier or make me feel younger.

Looney Tunes: Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid


This is quite an early Bugs Bunny cartoon, but we still see a lot of his personality shining through. In this short, Bugs is up against a dumb vulture who is out to get Bugs because his mother downgraded his target animal from a horse to a rabbit.

Naturally, Bugs makes a fool of the vulture, but also makes a fool of himself through a strategic series of misunderstandings.

Ultimately, the short is remarkably wholesome. Bugs screws with the dim-witted vulture, but not in a particularly cruel way. In the end, they’re both quite kind to each other and I suppose that is part of the reason why this short endures after all these years.


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  • 2 weeks later...

When Cancel Culture Comes for the Person With the Pitchfork



The Teen Vogue cancel culture news cycle reached its inevitable denouement earlier this week after social media sleuths discovered that Christine Davitt—a staffer at the publication who was involved in the successful effort to oust incoming editor-in-chief Alexi McCammond due to her decade-old insensitive tweets—had also tweeted bad words a long time ago.

While McCammond had profusely apologized for offensive and racist remarks she had made about Asians at the age of 17, she was nevertheless forced to resign—something that prompted Davitt to exhale "the deepest sigh I've ever sighed." But now it's Davitt's turn in the hot seat.

This is utterly unsurprising. Attempted cancelation of the person involved in the initial cancel mob has become a recurring feature of these stories. People who rejoice that their least favorite celebrity, media figure, or children's book author is finally being held accountable for some past wrongdoing are soon forced to remember that they, too, have done and said things they regret.

A facilitator of this phenomenon is the recent, relative ubiquity of social media. When I was 17 years old, in 2005, it was unlikely that any offensive comments I might have made would be preserved for later embarrassment. But just a few years later, it became the case that virtually every teenager had a smartphone, and their insensitive utterances would exist forever in text, tweet, or snap form.

This is one of the few points of agreement between myself, Will Wilkinson, and Jane Coaston, with whom I engaged in a spirited debate about the existence and extent of cancel culture for a recent episode of The Argument, the podcast of The New York Times' opinion pages. Coaston, formerly of Vox, is now the host of the podcast; Wilkinson was a senior staffer at the Niskanen Center until he tweeted himself out of a job.  Wilkinson is arguably a victim of cancel culture, but doesn't believe the concept has tremendous merit; I nevertheless defended him when he was fired. It made for an interesting conversation, yet we both expressed concern that social media has made it harder for teenagers to escape their worst moments.

Our major disagreement, on the other hand, is that Wilkinson believes the phenomenon we are broadly referring to as "cancel culture" is a method for historically marginalized groups to shift social norms such that people who malign them are held accountable. I'm skeptical of this claim, and the Teen Vogue incident does not make me less so. It is simply not true that the people who canceled McCammond—the progressive staffers at Teen Vogue—are obviously engaged in good faith anti-racism but the people now trying to cancel Davitt—various folks in the media who find the irony newsworthy—are engaged in bad-faith trolling. Rather, both sides have weaponized a new form of social sanction—one made more convenient by social media, but ultimately deployed not by bots or algorithms but by real human beings—to punish someone for a slight.

It is becoming clearer and clearer that this weapon does not belong to progressives: People on all sides of the political spectrum are capable of using it; indeed, cancel culture even occasionally strikes at people for reasons that aren't particularly ideological. We are currently witnessing a vast co-opting of the very term "cancel culture" by conservatives, who have described everything from the second impeachment of Donald Trump to the criticisms of QAnon-interested Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R–Ga.) as cancel culture run amok. Even South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, whose rising star among the MAGA set came crashing back to earth after she irritated religious conservatives, lamented that she is a victim of "conservative cancel culture."

I suspect that part of the reason the right is leaning so hard into appropriation of the term is that the American public is broadly sympathetic to those who are canceled, and Republicans want to associate themselves with the objects of such sympathy. This circular firing squad—where the leader of the mob follows the victim to the gallows—only creates more opportunities for them to do so.

Yep, this was a slippery slope that was easily predicted.


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  • 2 weeks later...


Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp fired back at his 2018 Democratic opponent, ex-Georgia State Rep. Stacey Abrams, who has led the charge against the Peach State's new election law.

Kemp told "The Story" that Abrams is appearing to have buyer's remorse after watching Major League Baseball decide to pull the lucrative All-Star Game out of Georgia — and a flood of boycott promises from liberal voters and activists.

Last week, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred Jr. announced he would be pulling the All-Star Game out of the state in response to Kemp signing the law, which prohibits electioneering within several dozen feet of a poll, expands some early voting, and institutes stronger identification requirements for Georgians seeking to vote absentee.

Atlanta's Coca-Cola, led by CEO James Quincey, and Delta Airlines -- the state's largest private employer -- led by CEO Edward Bastian, also slammed the bill, causing in turn conservative voters and activists to threaten their own boycotts of the corporate behemoths.

Kemp said Manfred "doesn't know what the hell he's talking about" when it comes to the alleged racism and inequities of the new law.

"You know, they're referencing no specific points in the legislation. I'm glad to talk through any of those [CEO's], by the way. You know, it's the biggest lie that has been out there," said Kemp.

"Obviously [MLB] didn't care what was said because they folded to the pressure. President Biden's handlers couldn't even get him a note card that told him what this bill did. Somebody is lying to you. It's not me. You can read the bill and prove that out." In that regard, host Martha MacCallum pointed to comments from Abrams, a high-profile Democrat in the state:

"Black, Latino, AAPI and Native American voters that are the most suppressed over [the new law] are the most likely to be hurt by potential boycotts of Georgia. To our friends, please do not boycott us. To my fellow Georgians, stay and fight, stay and vote," Abrams said.

Kemp accused Abrams of "profiting millions off of this" politicking.

"People need to follow the money and see why they're doing this and so effective and, quite honestly why they're working so hard at this. It has nothing to do with the merits of the bill. It's political pressure from a minority group of people, the cancel culture. They're shaking people down for a long time," he said.

He added that it is also likely a "distraction" for Democrats to use to keep Americans' mind off President Biden's border crisis and the "unconstitutional power grab" of H.R. 1, the 880-page election bill sponsored by Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md.

"I think just the contrary [of Abrams' remarks]," said Kemp. "I think people are ready to double down and get the truth out there."

"You know, that is the biggest flip-flop since John Kerry I have ever seen. For someone that has been pressuring these corporations, pressuring Major League Baseball to now come out after the fact and say don't boycott? People are getting screwed in this, Martha."

Kerry, Biden's climate 'czar' and the Democrats' 2004 presidential nominee, was accused of being a "flip-flopper" on almost every major issue from the economy to the Iraq War during his campaign against President Bush.

Kemp said that the Democrats' now-successful calls for boycotts and relocations are hurting "hardworking" "small business people in Cobb County" and the Atlanta area -- as the All-Star Game was supposed to be played at the home of the Atlanta Braves.

He said baseball fans and youth that dream of playing major league sports will also be hurt because the games are being "politicized."


"People should be scared to death that it's going to come to their neighborhood, to their state, to their ball game, to their college, to their business,"

In response to MLB's pull-out from Atlanta, several other cities are now vying to be Manfred's chosen replacement.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is urging the MLB to move the game to his state, as the New York Mets have a stadium in Flushing, N.Y., and the Yankees in the South Bronx.

Take the All-Star game to New York?  Where the voting laws are already stricter than Georgia?  Wait, isn't that hypocrisy?  


Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer suggested the MLB play its All-Star Game in New York, "where we are working to make it easier, not harder, to vote." In New York state there are fewer early voting days than Georgia and a restriction on passing out food and water over $1 in value to voters in line.

"Racist voter suppression laws are now hurting Georgia's voters AND its economy. Georgia Republicans should be ashamed," Schumer said. 

"We would welcome @MLB to come to come play the All-Star Game in New York where we are working to make it easier, not harder, to vote."

New York also requires an excuse to request an absentee ballot. 

The MLB announced plans Friday to move its All-Star Game and MLB draft due to the Republican-backed election reform in Georgia. It has not yet chosen a new location.

"Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box," MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support." 

The MLB is headquartered in New York City. 

Under the new Georgia bill, the Peach State offers 17 days of early voting to New York’s nine. Georgia bans passing out food and water to voters line within 150 feet, but allows for unattended water receptacles. New York bans passing out food and water, unless it’s under $1 in value and there’s no identification for who supplied it. 


Where the states differ is in voter ID requirements. Georgia’s new law requires voters to provide valid ID to vote by mail, as it already did for in-person voting. Previously, Georgia had relied on signature-matching to validate absentee ballots. New York does not require ID to vote by mail or in person, but ID is required to register to vote in federal elections. 

Georgia new law mandates two Saturdays of early voting and makes one Sunday optional. It mandates early voting hours must be at least 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. but can be up to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.  New York early voting hours vary by county. 

Georgia allows no-excuse vote-by-mail, while New York requires an excuse. Risk of contracting Covid-19 counts as an excuse. 

The Georgia law limits the number of ballot drop boxes to one per early voting site or one per 100,000 voters in the county, whichever number is smaller. That provision was seen as favoring rural areas over urban. 

Drop boxes in Georgia must be placed in a county election office or early-voting precinct location, so they’re only available during business hours to be monitored. 

New York law allows completed absentee ballots at a board office, an early voting location or an Election Day voting location. There were 1,300 polling sites in the 2020 election. 

President Biden has called the Georgia law "Jim Crow on steroids." "Imagine passing the law saying you cannot provide water or food for someone standing in line to vote. Can't do that? Come on," he said. this week. 

Come on, Man..  angry joe biden GIF by Election 2016...Since when does expanding access become a restriction?


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Major League Baseball has tapped Denver as its replacement All-Star Game site instead of Atlanta — even though Colorado’s voting rules are slightly more restrictive than Georgia’s new ones.

Even without the Peach State’s optional two Sundays for early voting, it offers two more such days than the Centennial State. Both ask for photo ID for absentee ballots, while accepting basically the same substitutes. Both ban electioneering activists from handing out free food or drinks.

The only real plus (by Democrats’ standards) is that Colorado mails out universal absentee ballots (with ID and signature requirements for it to count), but experts say that makes a minimal difference in how many actually vote. (Heck, the New York Times’ Nate Cohn says Georgia’s new law does basically nothing to restrict turnout.)

This makes MLB more woke for shifting the lucrative event from a majority-black city to one that’s less than 10 percent black?

Basically, this shows that baseball’s leaders are not only cowardly for going along with pressure from President Biden and other Democrats, but just plain dumb.

Yep - just plain dumb......


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Papa John Was Railroaded



If you get asked in a corporate setting to “role play” or to have an honest conversation about “diversity” or racism, make sure you have your own recording or transcript. Or, better yet: Don’t play along. That is one lesson from the continuing saga of John Schnatter, the founder and “Papa John” of Papa John’s Pizza. Schnatter is still trying to rebuild his reputation after what increasingly looks like a vindictive smear campaign three years ago engineered by the ad agency hired by his own company. Only now, after a court order unsealing evidence in Schnatter’s lawsuit against the ad agency, can the public review a recording and transcript of the private conference call that sank Schnatter’s career and destroyed his good name.

With the newly released evidence, we can now get an inside look at a saga of culture clash and betrayal. This is a story of corporate cancel culture run amok, and the only thing that makes it different is that the target was a guy big enough to fight back. If Schnatter were anything but the founder, chairman of the board, and largest shareholder of the company, what chance would he stand?

The Founder

Papa John’s wasn’t just where Schnatter worked; it was his company, and he was its public face. As an unsympathetic 2018 profile in The Ringer acknowledged:

[Schnatter] really did build the company from modest origins. When Schnatter was just out of college [at age 22], his father, Robert Schnatter, invested in a failing bar, Mick’s Lounge [among other businesses], and Schnatter fils, who’d worked in pizza joints throughout high school and college, set up some used kitchen equipment in a converted broom closet and within months had his own booming pizza business, which eventually grew into a multibillion-dollar company . . .

A 2009 Associated Press article says Schnatter sold his beloved Camaro in 1983 for $2,800 and “the money helped save his father’s tavern in Jeffersonville, and he used the rest to start what would become the worldwide pizza business.” . . . The sale of the Camaro funded only part of Schnatter’s nascent pizza empire — he needed a $3,500 bank loan, cosigned by a wealthy uncle, to buy out the Mick of Mick’s Lounge and start his pizza empire. Building Papa John’s, even with that leg up, was still an impressive feat of entrepreneurship . . .

On that fateful conference call, Schnatter described the building of his business:

When I get the pizza wrong, they don’t eat it. When we get the pizza wrong, they don’t sell it, then our people don’t make their bonus. . . . You ought to close a restaurant at 2:00 in the morning and try to get $5,000 to the bank without getting robbed. . . . You never forget the fact that you go home with burns on your arms and that you have to make the pizza, you know, cook the pizza, and deliver the pizza because the guy had a crash or had a wreck or didn’t show up. . . . Everything we do in the stores is just hard. I mean, fresh packed sauce is harder than paste. I mean, milking cows is hard. Slapping dough is hard. Delivering pizzas is hard.

The Target

Schnatter became a high-value target in the culture wars a decade ago. In 2011, he pulled Papa John’s ads from Wonkette after the site mocked Sarah Palin’s then-toddler son for having Down syndrome, making Schnatter a long-running butt of retaliatory attacks by Wonkette’s sister websites in the Gawker Media universe, such as Deadspin. In 2012, Schnatter criticized Obamacare as bad for his business, and some Papa John’s fans rallied in support after he came under fire for that position. Schnatter was also a multimillion-dollar donor to Americans for Prosperity and other Koch brothers pro–free-market initiatives, teaming with them to endow scholars at the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville. Schnatter himself valued his total donations to Koch-related projects at $53 million.

In November 2017, after a disappointing quarter for the company, Schnatter complained on a quarterly earnings conference call with analysts that he felt that the NFL had damaged itself by the lingering “debacle” of controversy over national-anthem protests led by Colin Kaepernick:

Now to the NFL, the NFL is hurting, and more importantly by not resolving the current debacle to the player and owners’ satisfaction, NFL leadership has hurt Papa John’s shareholders. Let me explain. The NFL has been a long and valued partner over the years, but we are certainly disappointed that [the] NFL and its leadership did not resolve the ongoing situation to the satisfaction of all parties long ago. This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago. Like many sponsors, we are in contact with [the] NFL, and once the issues [are] resolved between the players and the owners, we are optimistic that [the] NFL’s best years are ahead, but good or bad, leadership starts at the top. And this is an example of poor leadership.

You need to look exactly how the ratings are going backwards. Last year, the ratings for the NFL went backwards because of the elections. This year, the ratings have gone backwards because of the controversy. And so, the controversy is polarizing the customer, polarizing the country, and that’s the big difference here.

At the time, Papa John’s was a major sponsor of the league — the “official pizza of the NFL” — and spent a quarter of the company’s advertising budget, some $40 million a year, on its NFL sponsorship. It was not unreasonable, then, for the nearly double-digit declines in TV viewership for NFL games in two successive seasons from 2015–16 to be a serious business concern for Papa John’s. As Jim Geraghty noted of the counter-reaction at the time:

Within hours of Papa John’s pizza founder and CEO John Schnatter claiming that declining NFL ratings were to blame for the company’s poor quarter, the company became the latest . . . well, political football. Deadspin labeled him a “crybaby loser,” and Slate declares the contention is “not really an idea anyone should ever express out loud.” . . . Deadspin’s rant about Schnatter includes a lengthy denunciation of the quality of Papa John’s pizza.

In February 2018, with its stock price down by a third, the company dropped its sponsorship of the NFL. Its competitor Pizza Hut stepped in to replace it.

Being active in hot-button culture-war fights while heading a publicly traded company is not a great idea, but aside from the Trig Palin controversy, most of Schnatter’s political profile was directly related to free markets and his business interests. In the Obamacare battle, Schnatter was commenting on legislation that directly affected his company’s bottom-line. In the case of the NFL protests, he was briefing investors on one of his company’s most important business relationships. And his public comments on the anthem protests, for which he was broiled by left-wing media, did not even take aim at the protesting players so much as at the league.

The Explosion

In July 2018, a bombshell story broke. Schnatter had resigned as the company’s chairman after he “used the N-word on a conference call in May” with Papa John’s ad agency, Forbes announced in a story titled “Papa John’s Founder Used N-Word On Conference Call.” Much of the press coverage, which followed the Forbes story, was similar. German Lopez of Vox wrote, “Not using the n-word is a basic show of restraint and respect — the kind of restraint and respect consistently demanded of black people in American society. That Schnatter couldn’t live up to even this bare minimum is a strong sign that he shouldn’t be representing a big pizza chain that’s trying to repair its image.”

Schnatter was forced to resign as a trustee of the University of Louisville, under fire from the local NAACP. His wife of 32 years filed for divorce. The fallout for both the company and its founder (who held nearly a third of its shares and a seat on the board) was ugly:

Same-store sales fell 7.3 percent in 2018, the company’s shares plummeted, and it lost big partnerships with Major League Baseball and several sports teams. . . . After the incident, Papa John’s scrubbed Schnatter from promotional materials and the company logo. His name was removed from the Center for Free Enterprise at the University of Louisville, and the Papa John’s name was removed from the school’s football stadium.

Was this justice done to a bigot, a politically correct overreaction, or something more sinister? Unlike a lot of targets of cancel culture, John Schnatter has a lot of money, plenty of free time on his hands, and a combative enough nature to fight back. He launched lawsuits and a coordinated public-relations push of his own: “In a 61-page letter sent after his resignation, Schnatter accused Papa John’s senior executives of ‘frat club’ behavior, including sexual harassment and bigotry.” He set up websites to get his side of the story out. He ate 40 Papa John’s pizzas in a month, in a publicity stunt to critique the state of the company’s product after his departure. He donated $1 million to a historically black college in Kentucky.

Now that we finally have a public record of what transpired on the entire call, it is clear that Schnatter — who had no prior record of racial incidents — has been the victim of character assassination. It appears that the Forbes article may have been revenge by his ad agency after Schnatter fired them. Schnatter alleges, not without reason, that the whole thing was an ambush from the beginning, as the agency was already on thin ice with the company. Either way, the reactions by the ad-agency personnel on the call are symptomatic of people too saturated in left-wing political assumptions to see Schnatter with any measure of fairness or perspective.

The Ambush

Early in 2018, Papa John’s hired Laundry Service, a Brooklyn-based ad agency owned indirectly by Casey Wasserman, the grandson of legendary Hollywood mogul Lew Wasserman. Laundry Service’s assignment was to manage some of the public-relations blowback from Schnatter’s NFL “debacle” comments. Schnatter now says that the relationship never went well, and that Laundry Service was in over its head on such a large account. The company parted ways with the ad agency in June 2018, after the call and before the Forbes article was published. Schnatter says that he fired them. Forbes, which apparently drew its report from Laundry Service sources, claims that it was the ad agency that ended the relationship. The facts of the story appear to support Schnatter on that score:

The NFL incident forced Schnatter to lie low, and Papa John’s diminished his prominence in advertisements. That change did not sit well with Schnatter. He personally hired a marketing agency (not Laundry Service) to create ads featuring him that would air in key markets, a source close to the company told Forbes. Then, in May, he pushed out Papa John’s CMO Brandon Rhoten, who lobbied to keep Schnatter off the airwaves, multiple insiders say. With Rhoten gone, Papa John’s tasked Laundry Service with helping to manage Schnatter’s comeback. . . . [In July 2018,], Laundry Service laid off 10% of its workforce in response to financial pressure, attributable in part to its revocation of the Papa John’s contract.

Schnatter, in his lawsuit, says that Laundry Service actually wanted to run an ad campaign replacing Schnatter with Kanye West — not the first person you’d identify with stilling the waters and steering away from controversy. Ironically, according to Schnatter, he vetoed that choice in part because Kanye’s songs use the N-word.

The conference call at issue took place on May 22, 2018. According to a report prepared by former FBI director Louis Freeh’s firm (working for Schnatter’s lawyers), Schnatter expected the call to address new marketing initiatives, but “instead, when the call commenced, Mr. Schnatter was informed that the focus of the call would be ‘diversity training,’ and would include ‘role-playing exercises’ to foster a discussion of race and diversity.” The recording and transcript do not mention either “diversity training” or “role playing,” but they do reflect that Schnatter had been sent a document just before the call that he had complained of having little time to review, he was asked, “Do you want to do this exercise now?” and he went along. The call then focused entirely on how Schnatter could handle interviews with sports journalists Stephen A. Smith, Darren Rovell, or Bill Simmons about the anthem protests and race.

Jason Stein, then the CEO of Laundry Service, told Schnatter that “the goal is . . . to clear the air and John’s name to as many consumers as possible in as broad a way as possible as quickly as possible. So that’s the point of this sort of small media blitz tour,” which he proposed starting with Smith because “we like him because he’s black and he agreed with John’s comments” and felt he would give a fair hearing. The other participants on the call besides Schnatter and Stein were Papa John’s CEO Steve Ritchie, Papa John’s marketing and advertising vice president Katie Wollrich, and Tim Polder of Laundry Service. A few other unidentified Laundry Service personnel seem to have been listening in, and were caught in a hot-mic incident at the end.

The setting of the call was a frank conversation among senior people and public-relations professionals about managing the image and communications of the company chairman: What to say, what not to say. Any lawyer or PR person who has ever done witness preparation or media training will know the drill. The whole point of this sort of thing is to candidly hash out a message that is true without creating trouble. People getting walked through such paces are invariably going to vent some of their frustrations about being in this situation. It was not a management setting or a public event. It was supposed to be a situation of trust. The call is, in several places, amusing for Schnatter’s bluntness, which the Laundry Service people found unsettling.

The call transcript gives some sense of Schnatter’s sentiments about the anthem protests. Schnatter expressed a businessman’s concern that the players were harming themselves economically by continuing the protests, but acknowledged that this was not a safe opinion to air in public:

I don’t think the players are going to let up. And I say that because when I did talk to the players, I think I talked to the guy from Philadelphia. I talked to somebody who was a direct source to the players, and I said, “do you know, do you realize they’re going to destroy their future income,” and the guy said “the players don’t care.” I’m like “whoa, whoa, whoa. You know, when the stands are half full and sponsorships go down 50 percent, that’s going to affect the players.” He said “they don’t care.” That shocked me. When I was going through this it absolutely shocked me that I said “hey, they’re shooting themselves in the foot, don’t they know that, and they don’t care.” I hope for the country and for the league they get it resolved, but I’m hesitant. . . . I think it’s not healthy for them to protest. Because it’s not really getting to the cause. I think it’s unhealthy. I think it’s just making things more divisive. I won’t say that because I don’t want to give you guys a heart attack, but I think the kneeling has made things worse for everybody.

That said, Schnatter reserved his real anger for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and for Donald Trump. Here is Schnatter’s take on Goodell and the NFL owners:

You know, I just attacked Goodell to get it resolved because it was hurting our business. I mean, it was hurting everybody’s response to the NFL business . . . there was nothing in there that was racist, I mean, or attacking the players. It was like I think this is the wrong venue. I think you’re hurting yourself, and then the Goodell guy, I mean, I’ve never met a bigger coward. I mean, what he’s doing, he’s destroying these players’ bodies, he’s destroying these players’ minds. They’re all beating their wives up. He’s destroying their families. They’re all on steroids or pot, and now he’s going to let them protest, he’s going to destroy their future income. I mean, there’s nobody doing more harm to the players than Roger Goodell. I don’t think I can say that [in public]. . . . Looking back on it, I wish I would have called Goodell out by name because then I would have solidified who I was attacking.

I’m trying to give them advice . . .  because Jerry [Jones] said “well, if they don’t kneel, they don’t play.” I said “whoa, slow down here a little bit, Hoss, because you’re going to further divide the situation.” That was my counsel to both Jones and [Dan] Snyder. . . . When I talked to Fred Smith, Peyton Manning, the Redskins, the Cowboys, I said “listen, you guys are going to lose, lose, lose, lose, lose — this is no good for anybody, any of us.” And then . . . I said “we’ve got to find, you know, eight or nine leaders in the country that are level-headed and not going to fly off that will sit down with the players and, you know, get them what they want. At the same time, you know, not destroy the league, destroy the players’ future income, destroy sponsors, destroy the fan base, et cetera.

In Trump, Schnatter did not find “level-headed” leadership. In fact, he blamed the president for sabotaging his effort to resolve the anthem controversy collaboratively:

If you really look at it, Trump did with the NFL what he’s done with the whole country. He’s the one who set all this sh** up. He’s the one that got everybody inflamed. . . . Why I’m hesitant to even answer the questions in the first place is because it wasn’t intentional to be insensitive to police brutality. I mean, that wasn’t even in my mind or, you know, to be anti-supportive . . .

I had the head of PepsiCo, head of Fed Ex, we asked for the player association, we had Mike Pence. . . . Before all that went down, I tried to get everyone in the room and say, “hey, can we resolve this to everybody’s satisfaction.” And the owner of the Cowboys . . . I didn’t want Jerry there because Jerry would blow it, but I wanted Charlotte Anderson there because she’s level-headed, Fred Smith with Fed Ex, Indra Nooyi [the CEO of Pepsi].

I had a bunch of people that I felt like were level-headed and to get this done with the unions and Pence. We were going to meet at the White House on a Friday. And this was 90 percent put together, and Trump shot his mouth off and screwed it up all up. See, once Trump put his hand in the pie, then there was really no way to meet at the White House and get this resolved.

Schnatter was, plainly, frustrated at how he was being portrayed in the media and the difficulty of proving he’s not a racist in today’s media environment — a charge that seems to have been aired in the Laundry Service memo he was sent:

When you put this in front of me 12 minutes ago, John, you’re a racist, well, it’s going to take me awhile to get out of my shell because this is brutal if you’re me and you’ve been called a bigot for six and a half months. That’s why I need to study it . . .

Especially something that is this delicate. I mean, this is like threading three needles at the same time. It’s like I didn’t say anything racist, but you can’t say I didn’t say anything racist.

In response to a question about distancing himself from online racists, Schnatter pointed to the absurdity of this by describing real, vicious racism that horrified him growing up in Indiana:

It’s such a bizarre question. It just was not the way — we had a town outside of Jeffersonville called Utica, and there’s a sign going into Utica in the ‘60s and ‘70s that says if you’re black don’t come into Utica after dark, and that was really frowned on not only in our community but in our family, so we grew up with this bullsh**. You know, they used to drag black people behind a pickup truck until they were dead. I mean, the question’s kind of way out of line just how gruesome these alt-right members are. And I don’t think I want to say that, but anyway, I think you get the gist of how I feel about it.

Stein and his team pressed Schnatter to distance himself from a $1,000 donation to Trump. Schnatter noted that he was really a Mike Pence guy, not a Trump guy, and that $1,000 is not a big deal to a man who put $53 million into the Koch network:

SCHNATTER: The Trump thing, I don’t know how that guy got a thousand bucks, I really don’t.

STEIN: You can say that. You should say I must have had too much to drink that night. That’s it.

SCHNATTER: I feel like I probably did it as a joke. Now that I think about it, that’s probably what I did because I’m friends with Mike Pence, real good friends, and he was governor of Indiana. He never called me unless he wanted money. That’s okay. I like the guy. I like what he stands for. . . . He’s too religious for me and he wears it on his sleeve. . . . Policies actually are very healthy and very good for America. But I think they were pounding on me to give Trump money, and I said, you know, “here’s a thousand bucks, get off my ass.” That’s what I think I did, knowing me. . . .

If I was — if Trump was really my guy in this election against Hillary Clinton, well sh**, I probably would have given the guy two million bucks. . . . I was half drunk. I sent the guy a thousand bucks, whatever you want me to say, however you want me to say it. I have a feeling that was probably the truth.

The Word

As the call wound down, it appears from the recording and transcript that Schnatter (unmuted) began venting to his team about the situation he was in, while Stein (on mute) started venting to his team about their shared loathing of Schnatter, and the Laundry Service team recorded both conversations. Schnatter complained about prior PR and ad agencies refusing to let him talk, and that’s when he said this to Ritchie and Wollrich:

I got to tell you, heaven forbid this company if they’re not going to use me at all. After I’ve looked at this research, I mean, I’m just not seeing how you’re not going to tell the Papa John story and let them – what bothers me is Colonel Sanders called blacks n******. I’m like, I’ve never used that word. And they get away with it. [UNINTELLIGIBLE CROSSTALK] Yet we use the word debacle and we get framed in the same genre. It’s crazy. The whole thing’s crazy.

Should Schnatter have used that word, in quoting what somebody else said? Not in a public setting, surely — and maybe not wisely here, either. But his whole point was that this was an example of a bad thing he wouldn’t say. Who among us, even those of us who would never use that word, has not described something bad to make a contrast? This is like what the New York Times did to Donald McNeil, but worse, because there isn’t even the excuse that Schnatter was talking to kids.

Stein and his team, meanwhile, immediately lit into Schnatter even before the “N-word” was uttered. You can listen here to the highlights:

STEIN: I think by Sunday John won’t be working . . .  [UNINTELLIGIBLE] anymore. . . . This is what happens when a sociopath spirals. [FEMALE LAUGHTER]. . . . I hope he gets f****n’ sent out to the pasture on this shit. I really, really f****n’ do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: All of his answers just said a lot about him. They were very revealing.

STEIN: Yeah. I mean I already, that’s already all been revealed to me. That’s why I just want him to go out and talk.

You need to read the rant session by the Laundry Service team at some length to truly taste their open contempt for their Midwestern client and their incomprehension of how someone could not regurgitate corporate woke-speak. Some of this is just Blue America and Red America not understanding one another, but Stein’s musings about how to sabotage Schnatter reveal the difference: It’s Blue America that is out to get Red America fired:

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: Because he can’t even take the most, like, simple, like just acknowledge . . . why they’re doing this protest, like he wouldn’t even pick up on that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: Yeah, he’s really not in touch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: But [CROSSTALK] — he’s like the players don’t care. They’re going to still protest because that’s more important to me.

STEIN: He’s a racist.

FEMALE SPEAKER: Then he’s a racist.

STEIN: He has no problem saying that black people were dragged behind a car, using the N-word just now, but he can’t just f****ing say that.

FEMALE SPEAKER: Did he actually use the N-word? . . .

JASON STEIN: He said — he called them N word and he’s fine, but all I did was say debacle. He has no problem saying that but he can’t say that he said anything wrong.

TIM POLDER: Yep, it’s crazy.

JASON STEIN: He’s racist.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: But the thing is he’s all about like money and to me the players saying that they’re still going to protest is because they’re saying this is a real issue, it’s not about the money. It’s not about us throwing our salaries. It’s not about us, not having . . .

POLDER: But values don’t mean anything if they don’t cost you anything, and that’s what the players are proving, why they keep on protesting. Colin Kaepernick, there’s only one reason he’s not playing right now. It’s not because he sucks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: I think the most uncomfortable part of this whole thing beyond all the uncomfortable parts were that when we said are you racist and he first read that question he had to ask the rest of the . . . team if he’s still working with a certain, like, community or committee still . . .

POLDER: That’s the CEO’s equivalent of “I’ve got a black friend,” and then he added “I’ve got a black bodyguard.”

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: Before I was like yeah, it’s money driven. But now I’m like he’s actually very much, in fact, a racist from a lot of the answers he gave. It’s like a lack of self-awareness and a lack of curiosity, and a lack of trying to like change his view, or attack it in his life, because if you just want to live in this box, then that is the ingredient to racism.

POLDER: Okay. Devil’s advocate. Despite the plan, the plan’s the plan. No one, no one has said to him, “dude, are you really not getting it? You are out of touch.” Everyone, including us, are pandering a little bit to him. No one is saying to him, “you are actually out of touch. You cannot say these things. I get your empathy note about that you find it horrible that . . .”

STEIN: He knows. He knows . . .

In the world of “woke capitalism,” anything less than 100 percent support for Kaepernick is seen as ideological treason and irrefutable proof of being a racist. Anything Schnatter said to defend himself was taken as evidence against him. Then, we get to the part where Stein and his team openly suggest that they should set up Schnatter with a hostile interview:

STEIN: I just want him to go and speak the truth, and I want him — write down the bullet points, and then go f***ing — just have to make sure it’s an hour-long conversation, so that he says sh** like he said here. It’s gonna come out. He can’t control it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: I want the person interviewing him to know even though he knows to not say those specific answers, I want that sh** to come out too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: Well, it’s going to come out now because even now he started spiraling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: Like, I want whatever we recorded to be like the actual interview.

STEIN: I already spoke to Darren Rovell who said he gets it, and he said he’ll only do it if he can ask all the hard questions and really talk about all the hard issues and he’ll do it for an hour on Twitter live and he’ll let people ask questions. So, we just have to make sure he does that. You can’t give a five-minute sound bite. And Bill Simmons will do it too. I’ll call Bill and ask.

Finally, they started grumbling about Schnatter being tied to Pence and Koch, in case you had any illusions that these sorts of people merely hate the Donald Trumps of the world:

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: Americans For Prosperity . . .

MALE SPEAKER: That’s a f***ing super right wing, like crazy . . .

JASON STEIN: Thank you. Hang in there, guys. Sorry you had to hear that crap.

POLDER: So, he’s BFFs with Pence, Koch.

These people worked for Schnatter. His company had hired them to help him, and when they couldn’t do that, they appear to have leaked a selectively presented account of the conversation to the press to destroy him. Only because they saved the recording can we hear the whole thing now.

Maybe there was more: Schnatter alleges that Laundry Service held up Papa John’s for $6 million before going to Forbes, and he also alleges that Ritchie, his own CEO, “has admitted privately that he launched a false and defamatory campaign against Mr. Schnatter, falsely accusing him of racism, for the sad and simple reason that Mr. Ritchie learned that he was going to lose his job.Thus far, however, public accounts do not offer any evidence of whether or not Schnatter can back up either of those allegations. Laundry Service has been laying low, not offering anything but the most boilerplate public defenses. Representatives for Schnatter and Laundry Service did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

Telling your close associates in senior management, on a private call, that you disapprove of somebody else using the N-word should not be a firing offense and a reputation-destroying incident in a country of adults. The mere fact that this has to be explained is a sign of the madness that has gripped corporate America.

Agreed. This is another form of corporate espionage foisted by the progressive left.


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No, Hank Azaria Doesn’t Have to Apologize to Indian Americans for Apu



As one of the world’s leading experts on Simpsons character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon (yes, this is sarcasm!), I have once again been asked to bring my vast expertise to one of the great controversies of our generation: Is Apu a racist figure?

I have written about this controversy numerous times, both for National Review, as well as for other publications. And “controversy” is an exaggeration; this is largely a made-up issue, contrived for people to claim victim status, not a true affront to equality and justice.

The latest foray in the Apu wars was a comment made by Hank Azaria, a white man who has long been the voice actor for the famously Indian character. Earlier this week, appearing as a guest on the Armchair Expert podcast, Azaria took his self-flagellation to the next level:

“I was speaking at my son’s school, I was talking to the Indian kids there because I wanted to get their input,” Azaria said. “A 17-year-old … he’s never even seen The Simpsons but knows what Apu means. It’s practically a slur at this point. All he knows is that is how his people are thought of and represented to many people in this country.”

The boy, “with tears in his eyes,” Azaria said, asked the actor to tell Hollywood writers what they do matters and has ramifications on people’s lives. Azaria said he would deliver the message.

“I really do apologize,” Azaria said. “It’s important. I apologize for my part in creating that and participating in that. Part of me feels like I need to go to every single Indian person in this country and personally apologize. And sometimes I do.”

But the Apu wars preceded Azaria’s latest self-flagellation. They largely began with The Problem with Apu, a documentary/comedy written and produced by Hari Kondabolu, an Indian-American stand-up comedian. The movie lays out the case that Apu has become a symbol of racial stereotypes and bigotry, and that the character has propagated prejudice against Asian Americans — Indian Americans in particular.

From early on, I said that Kondabolu was off base. Here is what I wrote initially in April 2018:

That said, Kondabolu’s tirade largely runs off the tracks as he blames the Apu character for all sorts of slights and insults during his career: “Apu was the only Indian we had on TV at all so I was happy for any representation as a kid. . . . He’s funny, but that doesn’t mean this representation is accurate or right or righteous. It gets to the insidiousness of racism, though, because you don’t even notice it when it’s right in front of you.”

The ridiculousness of this statement is almost too much to bear. On the show, Apu is a strongly accented, traditional Indian immigrant. As such, he is the owner of a convenience store (obviously a nod to the many 7-11s and other small businesses owned by Indians throughout the northeastern United States), who later gets an arranged marriage, has octuplets, and is shown as a fantastic father and husband. He is also, among other things, a gun owner who is extremely religious and devoted to his Hindu culture.

Some quickly condemned my position, and others simply attacked it as blind and ignorant. Meanwhile, the producers of The Simpsons seemed to be on my side, though eventually the controversy resulted in the predictable Hollywood response: They virtually killed off Apu from the popular animated show. For the showrunners, who probably believe Apu is a respectable, lovable character, a war with the woke mob wasn’t worth the effort.

Azaria has been attacked for his participation in this supposed atrocity as well. He initially politely appeared on Kondabolu’s documentary, but was largely blindsided by the complaints. He then was criticized for not providing satisfactory responses to claims of racism and bigotry. Again, as expected, rather than continuing to fight the thankless war against the woke mob, Azaria simply raised the white flag of surrender. In 2018, he decided to permanently stop voicing the character.

Unsurprisingly, that didn’t end the saga for Azaria. Charges of racism have dogged him ever since. Hence his self-flagellation on the Armchair Expert podcast. Apparently, the ridiculousness never ends.

But it should. For one thing, does Azaria really think most Indians give this even the most fleeting, passing thought? The Simpsons is not widely viewed, or even available, in India. There was a short period during the 1990s when the show gained some notoriety there, but mostly because people fell in love with the character of Apu.

1.4 billion Indians don’t really care. The few here in the U.S. who do care have, for the most part, misdiagnosed a problem, and blamed, in an incredible and mind-boggling twist of logic . . . a cartoon character.

Ask most kids in high school today about Apu, and you’ll find not only that few have ever watched The Simpsons, but also that few even have a clue who Apu is. The chances that bigots at Azaria’s son’s school are using this character as their primary weapon against Indian-American students are very low.

I explored this several years ago, in an informal setting with numerous Indian-American students. I asked what Hollywood character was most used to “insult” their ancestry; the answer was not Apu from The Simpsons. It was Raj, the heavily accented immigrant Indian on The Big Bang Theory. With the end of that show, even that reference is now dated. I have asked various students this question over the years, and I have received very similar responses. Other names that are commonly brought up include Baljeet, an Indian animated character on the Disney show Phineas and Ferb, and Dopinder, the heavily accented taxi driver in the Deadpool films. Apu is almost never brought up as the weapon of choice from the prejudiced attackers.

Anyone see a pattern?

Bigots care not about what weapon they use to hurt the targets of their attack. They will use anything that is convenient. The characters, therefore, are not the problem; the bigots are. In the days long forgotten, it was the term ‘dotheads’ (referring to the red dots that we Hindus sometimes adorn on our foreheads) that was most commonly used.

Additionally, does anyone think the color of the voice actor matters? Azaria has repeatedly claimed that only people of color should voice such characters, but the examples above were voiced by South-Asian actors, and the targeting still occurred. The only other solution is . . . to never show Indian characters at all, correct?

The fact that, years after Azaria left the character of Apu behind, he still feels compelled to apologize (apparently, personally to every Indian soul, which means about one-sixth of the entire population of the planet) shows how ludicrous the social-media mob has become. Azaria conceded the point to progressives, did exactly what they wanted him to do, and is still dogged by the controversy. There is no pleasing the left-wing mob.

As for Azaria apologizing: Most Indians would not know who he was, and wouldn’t care. But I am not most Indians. I would love a personal visit by Hank Azaria to my home so that he could apologize to me and my family. I can’t imagine anything would be more satisfying than meeting one of my comedic heroes in person, the great and everlasting voice of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. As one of the Indian Americans who has been most targeted for his position on this issue, I think I deserve an apology. Give me a call, Hank. We can make it happen.


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  • 1 month later...

Should Nazis Be Allowed To Speak?



n fall of 1966, hundreds of students and others assembled at Brown University to protest an invited speaker. The atmosphere was charged as protesters held signs, heckled, and yelled expletive-laced condemnations.

Nowadays, attempts to cancel speakers at universities have become commonplace whenever students feel “harmed” by the views of an invited guest. In 1966, though, the students at Brown had just cause to protest. The invited speaker was the founder of the American Nazi Party, George Lincoln Rockwell.

Rockwell was invited to Brown to talk about “white backlash” against the civil rights movement. The intention was to provide the Brown community with insight into the opposition.

With good reason, many students and faculty were fiercely opposed to having Rockwell, an outspoken bigot and proponent of “white power,” on campus. After a rash of protests, including a statement from Professor I.J. Kapstein that Rockwell’s presence would be an “insult to the six million who died” in the Holocaust at the hands of Nazis, the president of Brown apologized and withdrew Rockwell’s invitation.

However, some students and faculty felt that “political censorship” was contrary to academic freedom and freedom of speech. A student group, the “Open Mind” club, was formed and reinvited Rockwell. Again, hundreds of protesters, including Holocaust survivors, justifiably protested, but Rockwell’s speech took place without serious impediment.

In a letter to the Brown Daily Herald, current Brown Professor Ken Miller, who attended the 1966 speech as a student, wrote that Rockwell was unexpectedly “charming, funny and, frankly, disarming.”

Miller shared that he learned a critical lesson that night. It was then that he realized that “true fascism doesn’t begin with the shouting, fist-shaking tyrants we see in newsreels of the 1930s. It enters with charm and wit. Its strategy is to beguile and divide, to offer easy answers to problems like crime and poverty. Blame them on the ‘others,’” as scapegoats.

Rockwell’s skillful delivery of offensive and hateful ideas demonstrated to those who attended how dangerous such people could be. Rockwell’s vile ideals, concealed by his polished veneer, forewarned against complacency here in America. Miller wrote that it made him realize, “It could happen here, and it most certainly would happen if we forgot the lessons of history, lessons that Rockwell brought to life with a sinister smile that evening in Alumnae Hall.”

In 1966, Brown was able to host a morally depraved speaker who was unanimously despised by the student body and there was value to it. More recently, Brown students have protested and successfully “cancelled” speakers such as: Ray Kelly, a New York City police commissioner, over disapproval of his “stop and frisk” policies; and Janet Mock, a black transgender activist, because the co-sponsor of that event, Hillel, a Jewish organization, was deemed offensive by a group of students due to its pro-Israel stance.

There are countless incidents like these in today’s “cancel culture.” Christine Lagarde, chief of the International Monetary Fund, withdrew from speaking at Smith College’s commencement due to criticism over the IMF’s policies in poor nations. Condoleezza Rice was “cancelled” from Rutgers’ commencement due to protests regarding her role in the Bush administration’s foreign policy. Not only do these unfortunate incidents represent invaluable lost learning opportunities as in the Rockwell example, but they more importantly sacrifice core American values of free speech and diversity of opinion in the name of avoiding potential “harm” to listeners.

Today, “cancelling” people—speakers, employees, teachers, journalists—is a common occurrence. There has been a regressive shift in society’s values from honoring respectful discourse and diversity of opinion to a woke paradigm of political morality and conformism.

Intent and context no longer matter. It is now considered acceptable to force a New York Times reporter to resign for engaging in a discussion with a high school student about racial rhetoric, using the n-word only while repeating the student’s question verbatim. A New York City high school teacher was put on leave for refusing to “deliberately use language to demonize white children for being born white.” A professor of business communication was fired because he purportedly offended some students when teaching a class on filler words in other languages. He compared saying “er, um, or like” in English to saying, “the common pause word in Chinese is ‘ne ga ne ga ne ga’,” which literally means “that, that, that” and is, to my Chinese ears, colloquially correct.

The problem with cancel culture is that it relies on wholly subjective underpinnings. James Bennet, an editor at the New York Times, was forced to resign due to complaints of “harm” from over 1,000 his colleagues over publishing an op-ed written by Senator Tom Cotton, suggesting a military response to violent uprisings in American cities. While the New York Times claims to be committed to publishing a diversity of views, its hypocrisy is blatant: publishing some views—those of a U.S. Senator no less—is apparently grounds for dismissal.

Cancel culture consistently cites “harm” as the reason for censorship. Relying on the subjective judgements of one group within society is anti-American. As at Brown in 1966, great insights can come from listening to and questioning views contrary to one’s own. The sacrifice we make in trying to protect some from being “offended”—abandoning our ideals of free thought and speech—amounts to much greater harm to us as Americans.


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Chicago Art Museum Fires Unpaid Volunteers For Being White



Yes, really.

The Art Institute of Chicago had been able to depend on the help of 122 highly skilled volunteers, mostly older white women, to act as guides to the Museum’s collection of 300,000 works, which they explain in great detail to visitors.

The volunteers also acted as “school group greeters” to help children understand the importance of what they were seeing.

Training requirements for the position were intense, and the volunteers were apparently doing a great job.

But now they’ve now all been dismissed for not being “diverse” enough.

“Many of the volunteers—though not all—are older white women, who have the time and resources to devote so much free labor to the Museum,” reports the Why Evolution is True blog.

But the demographics of that group weren’t appealing to the AIC, and so, in late September, the AIC fired all of them, saying they’d be replaced by smaller number of hired volunteers workers who will be paid $25 an hour. That group will surely meet the envisioned diversity goals.”

“Paying the replacements will not result in more knowledgeable docents. But they won’t be Caucasian; that’s the important thing,” writes Dave Blount.

Unfortunately for the volunteers, a lack of “diversity” is only apparently a problem at one end of the spectrum.

This is the President of The Art Institute of Chicago, James Rondeau. Funny how people like him never think that the need for diversity should start at the top. pic.twitter.com/IJhzWU4UYJ

— Boostahfazoo (@boostahfazoo) October 10, 2021

A similar thing happened last month when the English Touring Opera (ETO) kicked out half of its orchestral players in an effort to prioritize “increased diversity in the orchestra.”

The act of musical ethnic cleansing was carried out in the interests of following “firm guidance of the Arts Council,” which is a government-funded body.

Once again, this all underscores the fact that the only form of institutionalized racism that remains not only acceptable, but something to be encouraged, is against white people.


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Michigan Professor Survives Cultural Revolution, Succumbs to Campus Wokeness



When University of Michigan professor Bright Sheng was a young boy in China, the Maoist Cultural Revolution nearly destroyed his ability to hone his musical talents. After revolutionaries had seized his piano as a bourgeois relic, he was sent to Qinghai Province, near Tibet. There he was able to study in a regional theater as a pianist and percussionist until 1978, when Deng Xiaoping’s rise to power reopened China’s colleges. Sheng was one of the first students to enroll in the new university system, where he studied composition in the Shanghai Conservatory before moving to New York City to earn several musical degrees. He has since become one of the world’s most-celebrated composers, winning the MacArthur “genius” Fellowship in 2001 and twice finishing as a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize in Music.e0dd2acd3574679864cd76965aa5dce2.png


For over 40 years, academia has served as a place of solace and learning for Sheng — that is, until the University of Michigan reopened its doors this fall.

On September 10, Sheng wanted to demonstrate to his composition seminar how composer Giuseppe Verdi had adapted William Shakespeare’s Othello into an opera. To this end, he hosted a screening of the 1965 film version of the play, starring Laurence Olivier. The title character is described as a Moor — part of a civilization of black Muslims in North Africa — and has traditionally been played by a black actor in stage productions. Yet in this instance, the white Olivier wore blackface. 


Some of Sheng’s students were distraught by the depiction; immediately after it ended, Sheng sent out an apology to the class, calling the film “racially insensitive and outdated.” On September 15, David Gier, dean of the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre, and Dance (SMTD), sent a department-wide email explaining that Sheng’s actions were not in line with the anti-racist commitments of the university. The next day, Sheng also sent an email to the department in which he apologized for the screening — noting, among other things, his experience casting actors of color in his operas.


That, however, only further inflamed the situation. Following Sheng’s second email, a collection of 42 undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty in SMTD sent an open letter to Gier on September 23, accusing the professor of creating an unsafe environment for students in his class: “The letter implies that it is thanks to him that many of [the minority actors he worked with] have achieved success in their careers.”


By October 2, Sheng had stepped down from teaching the class.


That Sheng’s students were unsettled by Olivier’s makeup is understandable; that this was the professor’s punishment for deciding to show the film, however, is not.

If we are to believe contemporary critics of Olivier’s performance, his acting choice is inextricably linked to the racist minstrel shows of the 19th century. In his performance, he adopted several characteristics of the shows’ stereotypes of black people, including a wig of ethnic-looking hair, thickened and reddened lips, and the habit of rolling his eyes into his head so that the whites of his eyes contrasted with the darkness of his makeup. These features were used to create gross and absurd caricatures. They were despicable then, as they are now — and ought never to be approved by a just and civil society.

Still, we must recognize that they are part of our history and choose to reckon with them. Furthermore, we must acknowledge that culturally insensitive — even wicked — features can sometimes be present within works that are worthwhile to study, such as a masterpiece like Othello.

Sheng’s critics have not been consistent in pronouncing what exactly his transgression was. Was his crime showing the film at all, or was it that he neglected to warn his students about Olivier’s blackface? Had he given his students this so-called trigger warning, would that have made Olivier’s performance any less racially insensitive? Would he have been forgiven had he not sent the second apology? These questions deserve answers, especially when they are integral to whether a man will keep his job teaching or not. Yet all those who have called for Sheng’s stepping down have merely resorted to the usual woke buzzwords. Those who say that Sheng’s conduct has led to an “unsafe” environment ought to be more clear. Many may feel their stomachs churn upon viewing Olivier’s performance, but no one can reasonably argue that it threatens viewers’ physical safety.


The controversy surrounding Sheng is part of a debate over the fundamental purpose of higher education. In the classical model, it has been to challenge students’ worldviews with the goal of making them more erudite thinkers. In this mold, a professor exposing students to material that might make them feel uncomfortable would not only be acceptable but a requisite part of a course syllabus. Now, however, colleges and universities merely seek to coddle students’ emotions, treating young people of voting age as children. In this framework, our academic institutions must be expositors of left-wing racial theory, which sees any critical engagement with historical instances of blackface as perpetuating a system of racism.

In 1960s China, any professor who pushed back against Maoist Communism was ousted from the profession — or worse. Today, academics who contradict the established leftist orthodoxy are increasingly prohibited from teaching their students. Learning is a process that necessarily includes discomfort. The only way for us to become better scholars is to put all our views, values, and emotions into a crucible — one that allows all opinions and attitudes to be refined by the fire.

I truly fear for the future of this country, with institutions like UofM graduating such snowflakes.


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20 hours ago, Muda69 said:

Michigan Professor Survives Cultural Revolution, Succumbs to Campus Wokeness


I truly fear for the future of this country, with institutions like UofM graduating such snowflakes.


"In 1960s China, any professor who pushed back against Maoist Communism was ousted from the profession — or worse. Today, academics who contradict the established leftist orthodoxy are increasingly prohibited from teaching their students."

If this country continues down the path it's on, we will be the "Maoist" USA.  Fall in line with the narrative or else: cancelled or retrained, take your pick.

My father was born and raised in Germany, the part that was east Germany.  He was in school during the time Hitler was in power, and for several years when the communists took over after WW2.  Unlike most of us, and probably most government officials/political activists/academia, he actually lived under fascist/totalitarian & communist governments, and witnessed their rise to power.  Think about that for a second.  All these talking heads in the media, who read about it and think they have it all figured out, how many of them have actually been through the real thing?  The stuff he is hearing and seeing today is deja-vu.  Told me after the WW2 and the Cold War, and all the lessons the world supposedly learned about oppressive governments, he truly thought he would never witness the things he's witnessing now.  He's told me the stuff they're coming up with and how they present it are very similar in many cases to what they were told pre-WW2 and even some of it while the Soviets were installing their puppets in the east Germany.  It might be taking longer this time, but in his opinion the results will be the same.  The cancel culture especially, government mandating more, FBI investigating parents for daring to speak their mind and have a say in what their children are taught, the list goes on.  The entire body of work reminds him of 1930's Germany and post WW2 east Germany.

I'll bet some here will take issue with this post, and that's fine.  At least for now, we can still agree to disagree.  Just words from someone who has gone through this twice before in his lifetime..  At least we can agree that we all enjoy high school football.

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On 12/28/2020 at 8:17 PM, Muda69 said:

The New York Times Helped a Vindictive Teen Destroy a Classmate Who Uttered a Racial Slur When She Was 15


Agreed. Completely shameful that the NYT would run such a 'story' designed to ruin an 18-year old's life for something they said at age 15.  But that is the evil of cancel culture for you, something the "newspaper of record" has embraced in it's desperate attempt to stay relevant by pandering to SJW's.


On the contrary, she needed to be taught that actions have consequences, and that your past will follow you. 

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21 hours ago, DanteEstonia said:

On the contrary, she needed to be taught that actions have consequences, and that your past will follow you. 

The video depicted Groves, who was 15 at the time, and had just obtained her learner's permit, saying "I can drive, [slur]." The remark was not directed at anyone in particular. The brief video clip featuring it circulated on Snapchat until it was obtained and saved by Galligan, who had grown furious at how often he heard his white classmates using the N-word.

SF is surmising it was OK with Galligan when one of his non-white classmates dropped the "N" word though.......

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21 hours ago, DanteEstonia said:

On the contrary, she needed to be taught that actions have consequences, and that your past will follow you. 

I'm glad I didn't grow up in a world where everything you said or did as a youth (< 18 years old) was tracked and recorded.  So in our now surveilled world children are not allowed to make mistakes?


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3 hours ago, DanteEstonia said:

it depends upon the severity of the mistake. 

So to you a 15-year old uttering a racial slur is an unforgivable mistake warranting punishment and tracking for life.  Much like a sex offender.  Got it.


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Coastal Carolina University Is Trying To Fire a Professor for Saying Hurt Feelings Were Not 'a Big Deal'



Coastal Caroline University (CCU) is moving to terminate a theater professor who expressed the opinion that an extremely minor incident on campus did not merit a dramatic response from the department's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.

"Sorry but I don't think it's a big deal," wrote the professor, Steven Earnest, in reference to the matter. "I'm just sad people get their feelings hurt so easily. And they are going into Theater?"

The remark has landed him in considerable trouble, according to the Foundation of Individual Rights in Education, which is calling on CCU to cease all punitive action.

What was the incident? On September 16, a visiting artist spoke with two students of color who explained that they were hoping to connect with other non-white students on campus. The three of them subsequently wrote down the names of other students of color who might wish to connect and discuss their shared struggles. They left this list of names on a classroom's whiteboard; the next class saw it and thought that non-white students had been singled out for some nefarious purpose. A protest was planned.

The diversity committee investigated—and swiftly cleared up—the matter. "We believe it is important to inform the student body that the intent behind the list was as a resource for new students who are looking to be in community with other BIPOC students," wrote the committee in an email to campus.

Nevertheless, the committee opined that students' hurt feelings were completely valid.

"This in no way undermines the feelings that any of you feel about this incident," the email continued. "It should have never happened and the DEI committee will be discussing with faculty and students the gravity of the situation and how to handle these requests in the future."

Earnest rightly objected to the tone of this email. In response, students accused him of racial insensitivity and demanded he be fired. The university instructed him not to come to class and launched an investigation. According to Earnest, the university has initiated a "termination process," despite FIRE's protestation that punishing the professor is an obvious violation of his academic freedom rights.

"CCU has chosen a course denied to it by the First Amendment," wrote FIRE. "We call upon CCU to abandon its current path."

CCU declined a request for comment.

In general, universities should stop caving to students who are unreasonably upset about  minor infractions—but this wasn't an infraction at all. Campus administrators would be well-advised not to put themselves in the position of being responsible for every hurt feeling, no matter how ill-founded or slight. There's little benefit to making diversity synonymous with absurdity.

Oh, the widdle college snowflakes got their feeling hurt over a complete misunderstanding.  Incredible.  It's like these morons are on the hunt, looking for something to be outraged about.    I really don't see how these progressive liberals are going to make it in the real world, outside of the "safe spaces" of academia.


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On 12/28/2020 at 10:17 PM, Muda69 said:

The New York Times Helped a Vindictive Teen Destroy a Classmate Who Uttered a Racial Slur When She Was 15


Agreed. Completely shameful that the NYT would run such a 'story' designed to ruin an 18-year old's life for something they said at age 15.  But that is the evil of cancel culture for you, something the "newspaper of record" has embraced in it's desperate attempt to stay relevant by pandering to SJW's.


Yellow journalism all and all.

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2 hours ago, Muda69 said:

Coastal Carolina University Is Trying To Fire a Professor for Saying Hurt Feelings Were Not 'a Big Deal'


Oh, the widdle college snowflakes got their feeling hurt over a complete misunderstanding.  Incredible.  It's like these morons are on the hunt, looking for something to be outraged about.    I really don't see how these progressive liberals are going to make it in the real world, outside of the "safe spaces" of academia.


I had a professor tell me I had the personality of a turd... I wonder how that would fly these days. Most of the time I went to that class with a high BAC. (not a good way to go through life)

On 3/9/2021 at 7:01 AM, swordfish said:

May be an image of text that says 'Looking forward to the day I can read the lyrics to WAP by Cardio B to my grandchildren at bedtime instead of that offensive Green Eggs and Ham. So they can grow up right.'

Broke Boys don'r get no cat.

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1 hour ago, Goose Liver said:

had a professor tell me I had the personality of a turd... I wonder how that would fly these days.

Probably not very well. … All the turds would be offended. 😂

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On 4/6/2021 at 4:54 PM, swordfish said:


Major League Baseball has tapped Denver as its replacement All-Star Game site instead of Atlanta — even though Colorado’s voting rules are slightly more restrictive than Georgia’s new ones.

Even without the Peach State’s optional two Sundays for early voting, it offers two more such days than the Centennial State. Both ask for photo ID for absentee ballots, while accepting basically the same substitutes. Both ban electioneering activists from handing out free food or drinks.

The only real plus (by Democrats’ standards) is that Colorado mails out universal absentee ballots (with ID and signature requirements for it to count), but experts say that makes a minimal difference in how many actually vote. (Heck, the New York Times’ Nate Cohn says Georgia’s new law does basically nothing to restrict turnout.)

This makes MLB more woke for shifting the lucrative event from a majority-black city to one that’s less than 10 percent black?

Basically, this shows that baseball’s leaders are not only cowardly for going along with pressure from President Biden and other Democrats, but just plain dumb.

Yep - just plain dumb......


So has anyone heard whether the MLB is moving the World Series to Denver?  OR - maybe they just want everyone to forget about what happened earlier this year?

RECAP - MLB moved the All-Star game from a predominantly black city (Atlanta) over "restrictive voting laws" to a predominantly white city with STRICTER voting laws. 


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